I can safely say without reservations that tonight’s lens launch is the most significant to come from Nikon in a few years. Both of these lenses close important holes in Nikon’s line-up and will generate good will for them for years to come. Let’s look at both of them individually.
The 16-35mm f/4 VR.
Nikon users waited for a long time to see a fixed-aperture, wide-angle zoom in a high-grade lens barrel targeted at the upper-middle range of the market. This is one of those extremely specific customer demands for which only one product can be made to fill the void. This is that product.
AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
There is a simple and compelling value argument for this kind of lens: it can serve both as a wide zoom on FX and as a normal zoom DX. This makes you want to own one no matter what kind of photographer you are today or might become tomorrow, and the rugged build means it will last long enough for you to actually test this assertion. The addition of VR is purely icing on the cake.
The price is unknown to me at this time (*) but the f/4 speed suggests a “high but bearable” price with excellent margins for Nikon. This is one of Nikon’s most attractive lenses ever, it will sell to production capacity for a while.
(*) Update: it's $1300, not too bad, not too bad.
The 24mm f/1.4.
There are only a few lenses in Canon’s lineup that I have looked at with envy over the years. This is one of them. I have no use, need nor desire for ultra-telephotos but a high-speed wide prime is a tool of a million uses for me. Assuming great performance, which charts do suggest, this complex beast is going to be a pillar of the Nikkor system for a while to come.
What’s more, the same argument I made above for the FX/DX compatibility applies to the 24mm f/1.4 as well. This lens can be your dream fast wide prime on FX, or your fast near-normal prime with a “sweet spot” bonus on DX. You just can’t go wrong with this lens if the price (*) doesn’t preclude it.
(*) Update: ouch, $2200 is on the outer limits of what I expected.
So much so that this new lens presents a real dilemma for me at the 21-24mm point – Zeiss or Nikkor? I don’t know the answer and that’s extremely exciting! Certainly could be the topic of a lengthy essay some day. Suffice to say I don’t expect the Nikkor to offer edge-to-edge glory the way that the Zeiss does, but in the long view this is something my 24mm Elmarit ASPH does offer.